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Geoffrey Pridham, "Legitimating European Union Accession? Political Elites and Public Opinion in Latvia, 2003-2004." Party Politics, 13 (September, 2007), 563-586

First paragraph:
Increasing attention has been paid over the past decade to the importance of public opinion - previously underrated - in the European integration process (Carey and Burton, 2004; Eichenberg and Dalton, 1993). Basic problems in this respect, together with the now somewhat controversial 'democratic deficit' in decision-making, point to a legitimacy problem on the part of the European Union (EU). Evidence of this comes from difficulties in approving further integration projects in some past national referenda (e.g. in Denmark in 1992 over the Treaty of Maastricht; in Ireland in 2001-2 over the Treaty of Nice). Recently, similar difficulties were encountered with referenda on the EU Constitution in France and Holland. There is a perception that integration's progress and the EU system, as determined by elites, conflicts with a real choice being exercised at the public level - and this is seen as contrary to democratic requirements.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. European elections in Latvia, 12 June 2004

Last Paragraph:
Finally, like other new member states from Central and Eastern Europe, Latvia has been undergoing parallel processes of EU accession and democratic consolidation. While the overall dynamic between them is positive, this twin development is not complete. It is clear that there is still much to be achieved before Latvia becomes integrated in a deeper sense. At the same time, the resolution of remaining problems in the country's democratic consolidation should assist in helping to overcome the difficulties encountered in this country by the EU. Such problems include an unstable party system and the lack of full social and political integration of the Russian minority (which in particular demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm for EU membership). The EU as well as organizations like the Council of Europe have continued to exert pressure over improving the situation of ethnic minorities following enlargement in 2004. The fact that nearly 20 percent of the population are still not citizens demonstrates an obvious deficiency in Latvia's democratization and represents an obstacle to the extension of EU legitimacy

Last update August 2007